Language functioning in physically abused children




Pina, Ashley Ann

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This review sought to describe comprehensive language functioning in physically abused children with and without non-accidental head trauma (NAHT) relative to children with accidental head trauma (AHT). Research has shown childhood maltreatment has negative effects on cognitive, linguistic, and social-emotional development. Recent reviews have reported reduced language abilities in maltreated children, but the relationship between child maltreatment and language development remains poorly understood (Lum, Powell, Timms, & Snow, 2015). The limited number of studies focused primarily on linguistic outcomes and the inconsistent definitions of language and maltreatment has hindered a clear and comprehensive understanding of language functioning in maltreated children. One population within maltreated children whose language functioning is unclear due to inconsistent definitions is physically abused children. A lack of adherence to the definition of physical abuse (PA) is evidenced by exclusionary criteria placed on physically abused children with NAHT across the literature. The current consensus is neglect is the subtype of maltreatment whose population is most vulnerable to language difficulties. Results from this review suggest that physically abused children whose population includes children with NAHT are also vulnerable to mild to severe language deficits.


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